According to the U.S. Department of Labor, apprenticeships have a proven track record of producing strong results for both employers and workers. Apprenticeship programs offer access to hundreds of occupations, in high-growth and emerging industries.
Mike Carson, Training Director at Cedar Rapids Electrical Apprenticeship Training and Educational Trust gave an inside look into what apprenticeships are and the electrical program.
“An apprenticeship is an earn while you learn program which involves both working on a job site and classroom or technical instructions. Most apprenticeships, whether they're building trades or healthcare, are going to be hands-on learning from people that are professionals,” Carson said.
Cedar Rapids Electrical Apprenticeship is a program that offers high wages, great benefits, interesting and challenging working environments, and advancement opportunities for students.
“For the five-year program, it's a minimum of 190 hours of classroom training every year and probably close to 2,000 hours on the job training that they are compensated for,” Carson said. For this electrical apprenticeship, 90 percent of the training is on the job and 10 percent is spent in the classroom. During the classroom learning (training facility pictured), students go over topics including state and local codes, safety training, and how to work with the specifications of customers, architects, and engineers.
To apply for the apprenticeship, students must visit the Cedar Rapids Electrical Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee website and fill out an application. Applicants must be 18 years old, have a high school equivalency diploma, and a valid driver’s license.
“After all the documentation is provided to us, students are interviewed with a six-person interview committee. Half of them are electrical contractors that employ the electricians and the other half of that committee are electricians. They interview every candidate to look at previous work history so a lot of it is really going to depend on the age of the applicant,” Carson said.
Cedar Rapids Electrical Apprenticeship gets over 100 applications each year and they take 22 to 27 apprentices. Mike recommends that students who are interested in pursuing an electrical apprenticeship after high school should take industrial arts classes and complete internships to improve the chances of getting into the program.
First-year apprentices start by earning 45 percent of the average wage for electricians. As students continue their learning; they earn a greater percentage each year. By their fifth year, students are earning 28 dollars per hour to learn and complete the apprenticeship program. Upon successful completion, the current wage is $36.77 hourly with an additional $15.63 hourly for healthcare and pension benefits.
Low-voltage technician is a position within the electrical field that apprentices can obtain following their training. Low-voltage technicians perform installation and maintenance for all voice, data and video work in commercial office buildings, complexes, hospitals and manufacturing plants.
Another job for an electrical apprentice is an Inside Wireman role. They perform installation and maintenance for commercial office buildings and all complexes, including petrochemical, pulp and paper plants, retail stores, hospitals, and manufacturing plants. Inside Wireman can advance in their field by becoming jobsite foremen, project managers, or owning their own business.
For more information about Cedar Rapids Electrical Apprenticeship Training and Educational Trust, visit their website or check out these job profiles: Inside Wireman Electrical Apprenticeship and Low-Voltage Electrical Apprenticeship.